By Nathan Erb
Over the years, cars have become much more reliable. But with so many moving parts, even the most well maintained vehicles can still be temperamental. Assuming you're not a mechanic, let's take a look at the most common situations and how to deal with them.
You Turn The Key. Nothing Happens.
Listen to your car. Even though it has betrayed you by not starting, it's still considerate enough to give you hints as to why. If you turn the key and the engine doesn't crank at all, things may not be all that bad (believe it or not).
The problem most likely lies with the battery, especially in cold weather. When your car responds with silence or clicking:
- Turn on the car lights. If they're dim, you may have poor battery connections or a dead battery. Did you leave your headlights on last night or keep an interior light on? It happens to the best of us.
- Tighten and clean the battery connections and try again. They could just be corroded or loose.
- Jump start the car.
- If this works, immediately have the battery tested, especially if it's old. An auto parts store will often test your battery for free and can replace it if you need a new one.
- Things could still be worse -- such as a bad starter or alternator. At this point, you'll need a tow truck.
Car Cranks But Doesn't Start. Now What?
If the starter turns, but the engine won't start, the problem can be much harder to diagnose. One common problem is a frozen fuel line. In the winter, be sure to always keep your fuel tank half full. If water accumulates in your fuel line, the condensation will freeze and your car won't start. If you've been driving in wet conditions or deep snow, wet spark plugs or other engine components can prevent your car from starting.
At this point, you'll probably want to leave it in the hands of your trusty mechanic. If you have GEICO's Emergency Road Service, you can call for a tow 24 hours a day.
Preventative maintenance and preparedness can be the difference between a car that starts versus one that becomes the world's biggest paperweight.
Winter Driving Safety Resources